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Software Review of:
Photo Base 4


Larry Grosskopf is a Clinical Psychologist at the San Antonio State Hospital, with a thirst for computer knowledge. He is married to Marta, and they are raising two children, their daughter ZoŽ is 10, and their son Jackson is now 8. If you have questions, contact Larry via e-mail at reviews@alamopc.org.

From the October, 2003 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

Arcsoft makes a whole line of photo editing and photo related software products. One of them is Photo Base 4, which is a program that lets the user organize and even do simple photo editing. The key to this program is the organizational features. The first thing I think about when I download pictures from my digital camera onto my computer is that I sure do have a lot of photos on my hard drive. One of the great things about storing photos from a digital format on your computer is that hard drives these days are massive, so that you can store literally hundreds or even thousands of digital images on your hard drive and you still have room for more. However, doing this begs the question of "how do I organize them"?

Photo Base 4 is the simple answer to this challenging question. Let me tell you how it works. You have the option of browsing for photos on your computer, a very handy procedure, or you can get photo files from your digital camera, scanner or other location. The browsing for images is very familiar if you have used even a few software programs previously in that you browse from a "tree" view which will let you access any file, drive or folder on your computer. Finally, you can create a single or multiple Photo Base album(s) from photos found at various locations on your computer. We will discuss this last option in greater detail shortly.

What you need is for your system to be running at least Windows 98/ME/2000/XP on a Pentium-II PC or equivalent with 100 MB free hard disk space, at least 64 MB RAM and a 16-bit color display at 800 x 600 screen resolution. All things considered, these are fairly basic requirements. I am testing it out on my new computer, which has an Intel P4 3.06 GHz CPU, with 512 MB of RDRAM, running Windows XP Professional, with 80 and 160 GB hard drives. Once I installed it from the CD, I was ready to go. Unlike some software programs I have installed in the past, this program has worked flawlessly from the get-go. Let's proceed to the how-to part of the review. I have a limited number of photos on my new system, so the first thing I did was add several disks worth of pictures I had taken with my Sony Mavica digital camera. Now I had a conglomeration of photos from different events, times and unfortunately many with similar names beginning with MVC00#, which is how the Mavica names photo images by default. As I mentioned, I have stored images on my previous computer for a long time and have painstakingly downloaded and then renamed each of them, but it has been a slow and tedious process. The first thing I loved about Photo Base 4 was that I could gather my files into an album and then rename them individually much more quickly and easily than the old-fashioned way. But the best part is being able to rename them in batch mode, which lets you select the images from your album that you want to rename and then rename them in sequence, all at once. For example, in the "Kids" album, I took the images and renamed them "Kids" and they were automatically renamed Kids1 to Kids 73.

Then comes the gathering of the images into the album I wanted to include them in. For example, I started out with a generic "Kids album" with pictures of the kids at various events and times. I could also have selected just the photos of ZoŽ at school or the horse show or I could have included just the images of Jackson playing soccer. You are only limited in the number and types of albums by the space on your hard drive and your imagination.

You can even use Photo Base 4 to edit the images that need a bit of touch up. They do include a fairly basic (in my opinion) photo editor as part of the software that will let you do some editing of the images. I did try it out on a couple of photos and it seemed to work very well. To be honest, for most people, it would probably meet your needs unless you are well-versed in some other more complex and powerful photo editing program.

Next, after you have your photos organized, renamed and edited to your satisfaction, you can do several more things with them. One is you can archive them by burning the images directly to a CD, which will increase the likelihood of the survival of these images. Another option is to make a wallpaper image or a screensaver from the images you select. Finally and I think the neatest option is you can produce a slideshow and include audio in the show. You can even play the slideshow within Photo Base 4. There are many other things that you can do, once you play with this program some. Some of the more powerful processes that deserve mention are the ability to "Batch Convert" files from one image file format to another and the "Batch Resize" option which will let you resize a whole group of images at once.

The software is not available in local retail stores when I checked. It is available on CD or via download from the Arcsoft Website online store and the price there is $49.99.

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